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Youth Accord to enhance youngsters’ skills

Written by Thomas Thale and SAnews
Soon it will be much easier for young people to advance their studies.

This is thanks to the Youth Employment Accord, which was recently signed by government, labour, business and youth formations.

The accord aims to improve education and training opportunities for young people who have completed matric but are not yet employed.

Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande said the accord sought to place young people in skilled jobs.

“We are not talking about cheap labour. This is tied to skills development.”

Minister Nzimande said that according to the Retail Motor Industry Association, there was a shortage of 10 000 motor mechanics in the country.

“The association expressed a willingness to adopt further education and training (FET) colleges to close the gap,” he added.

The country also has a serious shortage of motorbike mechanics.

He added that more money would be made available to support the skills of young people.

The youth employment strategy provides for Grade 12 learners who have failed or got poor results, to be placed on second chance matric programmes.

The number of students studying at FET colleges will also be increased “as part of building a stronger vocational and technical skills base among young people to complement the current focus on academic training,” the Minister said.

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) has thrown its support behind the accord and called on employers across all industries in South Africa to do the same.

NYDA chairperson Yershen Pillay said employers needed to get behind the plan by absorbing more young people into companies.

“The accord is what one may refer to as an outcome of a broad consensus between all social partners but at the end of the day, it needs the support of all young people in this country and our role as the NYDA will be to ensure that young people know that it exists. If young people have no idea what the accord seeks to achieve, then we will have a problem.

“We need to see more of the private sector employers’ involvement in issues facing the young people of this country, not only in terms of financial support but also absorbing young people into companies – whether through internships or employment.”

Pillay said based on its staff complement, the NYDA could lead by example by providing 15 young people with internships and hoped that other state entities would follow suit. The agency employs about 300 people.

“That’s realistic. It’s achievable and can be done using ourselves as an example. We can lead by example and if we create opportunities for 15 people through internships based on our staff complement, we would reach the target as stated in the accord. It’s things like that, that we need to do, to make this work.”

Through his charity organisation, the Motsepe Family Foundation, business mogul Patrice Motsepe, will avail R100 million over the next three years for youth cooperatives and enterprises - a move the NYDA has welcomed.

“We commend the likes of the Motsepe Foundation. That is what we want to see more from the private sector. We call on more companies to come to the party. We will do our part and as the NYDA, we would also like to exercise some kind of oversight or monitoring of the implementation of the actual accord to see whether certain targets are being met,” Pillay added.